The William Clark Family






Mouth of the Licking River, Campbell County, Kentucky



William Clark & Family


Pendleton & Campbell Counties, Kentucky

Generously written & contributed by Stanley Clark, thanks Stan!
Please contact Stan if you can add to his excellent compilation, thanks!



   Among the most prominent pioneer citizens of Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky was William Clark. He was the brother of Governor James Clark, and the first lawyer to serve the Falmouth area. William was the son of Robert Clark and Susannah Henderson Clark, and was born about 1776 in Bedford County,  Virginia near the celebrated Peaks of Otter.


   Early in the 1790s, he migrated with his family from Virginia to Kentucky, where they settled near the Kentucky River, adjacent to the present city of Winchester in Clark County. Like his father and brothers, William was given the great advantage of full schooling at a young age, and became a person of great means and substance. Upholding a family tradition that dated far back into time, he opted for the field of law as an occupation.


   In the initial stage of his law career, he served the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the judiciary of the United States as the District Attorney for the U.S. District Court of Kentucky from 1796 to 1800 in Covington, Kentucky. Just prior to this employment, he became aware of and highly interested in the neighboring town of Falmouth, which had been only recently established on the Licking River in what is present day Pendleton County. Sometime before 1795, he purchased a lot in that attractive pioneer community, with eyes and heart on a promising future there.


   In 1800, when the infant U. S. Judiciary System expanded and changed its table of organization, William concluded it was time for him to devote his efforts to a private law practice. Convinced that Falmouth held great potential for a young man and up-starting lawyer, he selected that beautiful planned community in the bend of the Licking River to "hang out his shingle."


   Around 1801, William and his recent bride Catharine settled in Falmouth and established a household that afforded the base for great expectations. In addition to his law practice as a means of livelihood, William began purchasing lots in town and property in neighboring counties as an investment. Catharine, who came into the marriage with great means of her own, also made personal investment in real estate within the town. Included in the many lots they purchased, was a choice lot on the town square. We can speculate this lot is where William placed his office. With immediate acceptance and promotion by the community, William  prospered and grew into prominence. During this great era of his life, the family also grew in numbers, and the household was always supported by about a half dozen slaves of mixed gender.


   Between 1800 and about 1825, the Clark household was blessed with the addition of twelve children - six girls and six boys. The girls were given the names of Mary/Polly, Susan/Susannah, Elizabeth, Catharine, Agnes, and Missouri. The boys were named James, Robert Austin, Alfred, William Anthony, Nicholas, and John. Following family tradition, these offspring of William and Catharine Clark were named after previous family members and a few greatly admired associates. Elizabeth and Catharine were very likely twins. Before the middle of the century, these family members will follow another ancient Clark trait, by scattering themselves across the frontiers of the United States.


   William's decision to establish a law practice in Falmouth was very wise. He was readily initiated into the inner circles of the pioneer settlers and community leaders of the town and surrounding areas. In addition to the successful private law practice he brought to the young and growing town, he was immediately placed into the position of a highly regarded community leader. During the first three years of his residence, he was appointed a town trustee, road surveyor, commissioner, and a member of a company of county patrollers. Court records also contain various documents showing his interest in the establishment of a model town, and the welfare of its citizens.


   Outstanding among his contributions to Falmouth and Pendleton County, was the major role he played in the establishment of a viable judiciary system for the area. In addition to his private law practice, he also served at times as the attorney for the commonwealth during court sessions. He played a very important role in the formation and supervision of the clerk's office, and was once appointed a deputy clerk as a means of getting the office established on a solid foundation. At various other times he served on a commission to examine and report on the clerk's office.


   Most likely the greatest monument to the trust the community held in regards to his outstanding judiciary and administrative abilities, was the role he played in the introduction and building of the county's first public owned courthouse. The builders of the structure were directed to contract with William for the undertaking, and he served and played a vital role within the commission established to build this early seat of county government.


   The well established life of the Clark family in early Falmouth became threatened about twelve years after their move into the community. England and the United States became involved in another conflict - The War of 1812. Pendleton County was just beginning to enjoy a feeling of physical security from the ravages of a previous war,  when once again the western frontier would be drenched with blood of pioneer settlers. In response to the respect of his fellow citizens and the high regard they placed in his abilities, William was issued a commission in the Kentucky Volunteer Militia unit formed by men from the Falmouth area of Pendleton County. This unit was called into active federal service during the several years that homes of its members were on the edge of heated warfare north of the Ohio River.


   During his military service in this "Second War of Independence,"  William served on active duty as an Ensign (third officer) in Captain Thomas Martin's Company, which was a unit in Colonel William Montjoy's Regiment of Kentucky Volunteer Militia. Based on records and documents related to activity within the unit, it appears that he held down the position of the company adjutant - keeping records, writing and issuing discharge certificates, etc. As a lawyer and administrator, these functions placed him in an ideal position for the job.


   Sometime following the war and before 1820, William moved his family to a new home on the high ground beside the Licking River in neighboring Campbell County. The site of this new residence can be pinpointed today in the northwest corner of the Grants Lick Precinct,  just off the Pond Creek Road - above its intersection with the Harrisburg Road. In 1820, this site would have been just off the road that connected Newport with Wilmington. William owned other property in Campbell County and the city of Newport, and there is evidence that the family moved to the Newport area between 1830 and 1834.


   This move ended the Clark family's union with Pendleton County. One has to wonder if their departure was for the better of fortune? With it came a dark veil that would shroud this family for generations to come, and almost relegate it to the deepest pits of oblivion. Distance apart, premature death, ruptured feelings, and a great civil war would take a toll on the unity of brothers and sisters who were born into the greatest of circumstances and promise.


   As best that can be determined at present, William Clark died in Campbell County around 1834, at about 58 years old. His wife Catharine also died in Campbell County around 1837, at about 61 years of age.


   Son James died in Campbell County around 1837. He was likely between 30 and 35 years old. No records have surfaced that indicate he ever married.


   Daughter Mary/Polly married Josias B. P. Bullock prior to 1836, and moved to Missouri. She died on August 18, 1838 at about 34 years old, and is buried beside her husband in Cass County, Missouri.


   Son Robert Austin moved to Claiborne County, Mississippi. He married twice while there, then moved to Hinds County of that state, and established a large plantation on the outskirts of present day city of Jackson. He died on February 10, 1852 at age 48.


   Son Alfred moved to Claiborne County, Mississippi, where he established a plantation on the outskirts of the town of Port Gibson, and also practiced law. It has been reported that he married brother Robert's widow in 1859 and died shortly after at about age 53.


   Daughter Susan/Susannah married Jacob Stevens in Campbell County on June 15, 1835. She died on September 23, 1851 at about age 41; leaving six children in the care of family and friends in Campbell County, Kentucky.


   Son William Anthony moved to Handsboro (within present day Gulfport) in Harrison County on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He entered the Confederate Army at age 50 and was severely wounded in the battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He survived the war, but drowned in the bayou near his home on December 27, 1867 at age 54.


   Daughter Elizabeth, born cir. 1815, married Squire Baker in Campbell County on March 29, 1836. They later made several moves, but settled in Tazwell County, Illinois. They are reported to have had at least nine children.


   Daughter Catharine, born cir. 1815, married Thomas C. Miles in Campbell County on August 11, 1838. They settled in the Cold Spring area of Campbell County, Kentucky, and are reported to have had at least six children.


   Son Nicholas, born cir. 1817, moved to Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Was married and had at least one child. He died around 1845 at age 26 - 28.


   Son John, born cir 1819, left Kentucky in 1838, married and moved to Jo Davies County, Illinois, near the present day town of Elizabeth (within the Galena area). He and wife Sarah had at least three children.


   Daughter Agnes, born cir. 1820, married David Mayhall in Campbell County on October 10, 1846. They settled in the town of Alexandria, Campbell County, Kentucky. They had no children of their own, but adopted one of sister Susan's orphaned children, and another child born in Ohio.


  Daughter Missouri, born cir. 1825, married Peter Miles (brother of Thomas C. Miles) in Campbell County on August 8, 1844. They settled in Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky, and had at least two children.


It is only in recent years that information on this family is starting to surface in picture form. The above sketch of William Clark and Family in Pendleton County is incomplete at this stage, as it awaits further in-depth research. It is being offered at this time as one of several steps currently being taken to rescue the family from oblivion, and restore it back to its rightful place in history.


                                                                  Stanley R. Clark

                                                   gggrandson of William & Catharine Clark




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